Turning ‘Waste’ into a Valuable Brand Asset – with Guest Contributor Johno Harris, CEO of Aspen Waite South

Written by Waste to Wonder

Waste to Wonder is a leading ethical office clearance provider that saves costs and delivers exceptional CSR and environmental results. It's flagship programme, School in a Box, has equipped over 1,000 schools in 23 countries with donated furniture from the clearances they undertake.

Commentary | Customer Guides | Partnerships


By Alan Cooper, Founder of Waste to Wonder

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) relocated from Canary Wharf to their new HQ in Stratford, London. Through Waste to Wonder, they saved £28,479 in recycling charges, and were able to redistribute £563,170 fair market value of office furniture. Their redundant equipment went to charities and schools worldwide who desperately needed them, and their donation saved 903 tonnes of carbon retained and not released through recycling.

A similar yet smaller customer redistributed £124,700 of office furniture and equipment in December 2020. They saved themselves over £10,000 in recycling charges.

How did they do this? By challenging the perception of waste.

Ethical Office Clearances - Waste to Wonder


Let’s consider another scenario where ‘waste’ becomes a company’s most valuable branding tool. Say a company wants to enter an emerging market. Whether the product is new or existing, whether in the UK or abroad, they will need to have conducted extensive market research. Trend research, demand research, demographics, gender, propensity to buy, and so on.

Strategy agreed, the tactics then come into play. These can be both vast and costly, generally both. Considerations will include gearing up resource, production, materials, recruitment, premises, finance, financial gearing, cash flow, legalities, and accountancy to name a few. Then, last but definitely not least: marketing, advertising, social media, promotion, public relations, and sales. It’s a lot to think about.

The ‘make or break’ power of branding

Brand is driven by association. Now, I know the brand managers out there will try to tell you it’s much more complicated than that. But it’s not – it’s really that simple. Examples being association with reliability, association with youth or age, association with value for money or quality, with taste, with desirability. Even associations with celebrities are sometimes effective (and sometimes not!).

Building a good brand has always been perceived as a long-term endeavour. However, this is the new world of social media. A good or bad brand image can catapult a company as quickly forwards as it can backwards, and with just as much force.

Let’s go back to our hypothetical company entering an emerging market. This time, they want to add the magic ROI ingredient into their arsenal. So what is this magic ingredient? In all probability, it’s already sitting right under their noses.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of redundant office furniture and equipment is recycled or sent to landfill. It’s an inevitable result of the ever-changing needs and movements of businesses.

But let’s return to the title of this article and challenge the perception of waste. What if we look at that redundant equipment as a brand asset of high value, rather than as rubbish?

Ethical Office Clearances - Waste to Wonder

Our Vision

In 2020, Waste to Wonder redistributed thousands of tonnes of redundant office furniture and equipment on behalf of its customers. The total fair market value was £1.25 million. In 2021, we aim to redistribute £2.5 million’s worth. 900 schools in 19 countries have been supported so far. Marketers acknowledge that social media is a crucial part of any launch into an emerging market. What better way to enhance their corporate social credentials than to fit out schools and charities freely?

Immediate social branding at no cost. What sort of value would you put on that ROI? All a company needs to do is divert their redundant office furniture and equipment from recycling to redistribution. This costs them no extra. In fact, with no recycling charges, they save money.

Challenging the perception of waste can be a valuable experience for everyone. We believe there is simply no downside for businesses partnering with Waste to Wonder. Good for business, good for brand, good for the planet.

But don’t just take our word for it. Here are the thoughts of Johno Harris, CEO of Aspen Waite South, Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors:

“The world of Chartered Accountancy is changing as fast as everything else in the world today. Far too many accountants are still advising their clients on their retrospective financial positions with little understanding of today’s Business Environment, where profit and shareholders returns are more dependent on branding than ever before.

“People who work in the company – and their customers – are interested in how they are supporting their communities, their ethics, and values concerning the environment and sustainability. For instance, Veganism is a fast growing trend directly reflecting the upcoming generation’s genuine concern over the environment and consumerism. Tesla is another example of a world looking to sustain the environment.

“Accountants who are not involved in, or unable to advise companies in their overall branding strategy, are being replaced for more dynamic advisers who think like entrepreneurs and business people, and understand modern day challenges. The Waste to Wonder business model is genius in its concept… Game changing reductions in landfill (also saving serious amounts of money in landfill taxes); re-use and re-distribution of perfectly good furniture products; reduction in  new resources to replace same… and practical support for developing communities.

“Combine this with the Waste to Wonder Carbon Offset measurement tool and we have a serious, sustainable business model for today and the future. This is exactly the sort of branding every company that wants to be here and be counted in the next five decades should be embracing.”

View our chat with Aspen Waite:


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Accountancy with Business Strategy

In addition to traditional accounting services, Aspen Waite also offers business development services.  From developing integrated business strategies to business coaching, access to corporate finance to specialist tax advice, they take an active role in helping businesses achieve their goals. For more information, visit their website.